GSA Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado, USA - 2016

Paper No. 39-2
Presentation Time: 1:45 PM


KIRST, Scott R., Education Department, St. Norbert College, 100 Grant Street, De Pere, WI 54115 and FLOOD, Tim P., Department of Geology, St. Norbert College, 100 Grant Street, De Pere, WI 54115,

St. Norbert College (SNC) is a small liberal arts college located in the Green Bay, WI metropolitan area. Four years ago, in an effort to improve instruction to K-8 education majors, a 4-credit introductory geology course and a 4-credit science methods course were combined into a single, required, 8-credit, year-long course. The proposition was that the content specialist (geology) would teach a topic and the pedagogy specialist (education) would teach the students how to teach what they had just learned. Following are some of the lessons learned. It is important to have the strong commitment of at least one person from each department to lead the innovation. A common language between geology and education is critical in order to develop shared goals and objectives for the new course. We used the Next Generation Science Standards. It is imperative to have the overall support from each department and support from the respective divisions/colleges involved. Continuity of the course should be systemic and not dependent upon individual faculty. There are a remarkable number of administrative obstacles, many hidden, to overcome throughout the process including; registrar issues, scheduling within and between departments, approval of the new course by multiple committees, compatibility of the new course with the core curriculum, workload distribution, and budgeting. In this regard, it is valuable to understand the routing sequence and politics of the institution. Assessment of the course revision procedure and the course itself is critical. Assessment of the revision process is self-guided and continuous. For example, do I obtain course approval from the core curriculum committee first or the respective college committees? Assessment of the course is also continuous; from inception of the concept of a combined course, to implementation of the first class, to proposed modifications of future classes based on previous assessment. External assessment of the course proved highly valuable. Combining the science methods course and introductory geology class at SNC was not a trivial endeavor, nor is it likely to be at most institutions. However, we believe the quality of instruction for our K-8 students has improved.